Photos: Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is one of the few places in the world that you can see wild giraffes and skyscapers at the same time.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya

Nairobi National park is a unique safari experience just across the road from Nairobi’s Central Business District, and 40 minutes drive from our house. We stayed at Ololo Lodge, a beautiful farmhouse and safari lodge on the opposite side of the park. It was also directly under the flight path for JKIA international airport, so jumbo jets would frequently thunder past overhead. At 120 square kilometres, the park is not very big compared to others in Kenya, and even at Ololo, you can see the tops of the tallest buildings in Nairobi. There is also a raised railway line that bisects the park, although animals move freely beneath it.

But while Nairobi National Park lacks the wildness and space of the Maasai Mara, it does have its charms. It has all the same animals, except elephants, and the smaller area means they are easier to find. It is also one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. The animals are a bit more accustomed to humans and less likely to run away from safari cars. And the skyscrapers, railway line and airport all make for unusual juxtapositions with the wildlife and some interesting photo opportunities.

November 2022

A southern white rhino looks up from grazing alongside an earth road. These rhinos are named, not for their colour, but for the wide mouth that helps them eat grass in open savannahs (in Afrikaans, “wide” is pronounced “weit”).
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A group of buffalos give us a menacing stare, with Ngong Hills in the background. The small bird on the nearest buffalo’s head is an oxpecker. These birds have a symbiotic relationship with buffalos and eat the ticks that infest their fur.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A male lion resting in the shade of some trees after eating a zebra, caught the day before. The carcass was close by under another tree.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A bird of prey flies below an aeroplane, as seen from Ololo Safari Lodge, which is on the edge of the national park and directly below the flight path to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A hartebeest in front of the railway line. These relatives of wildebeest are distinguished by their colour, long face and distinctive shaped horns.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A buffalo walks alongside the railway line that runs through the park from Nairobi to Mombasa. Built in 2015, the line is raised so that animals can easily pass beneath. It replaced the colonial-era Lunatic Express, so called because many of its construction workers were eaten by lions.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
A giraffe looks up from grazing on a low shrub, with the skyline of Nairobi city behind it. The building on the right is the 33-storey UAP Old Mutual Tower, the city’s tallest until 2017.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya
An ostrich in front of the Nairobi skyline.
© Andrew Brown/2022/Kenya

December 2021

Two zebras stand on piles of earth at the edge of a gravel quarry. It was rainy season and I went out in a brief intermission between downpours, with rain clouds lurking on the horizon.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A vervet monkey with wet fur after a recent rainstorm. These monkeys are famous for their bright blue testicles (not shown here, this is a female).
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Three small birds at the edge of the green lake near the park entrance.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A crocodile crawling through bushes at the edge of the lake. It is unusual to see a croc awake and active, as they usually spend most of the day sleeping.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Two ostriches eating grass. These are the largest birds in the world. They are flightless and rely on strong legs for running and kicking. These two are males, identified by their black and white feathers. Females are brownish-gray.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Two cheetahs from a family of four that hunt together. They were well camouflaged amongst the tall yellow grass. Shortly afterwards, they split up and tried to ambush a group of antelopes.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A male impala stands on an earth mound with the raised railway line behind it.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A zebra overlooks the gravel quarry, with the towers of Nairobi behind.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A tortoise that was startled by our safari car driving past peeps its head back out of its shell.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A rock hyrax, one of several that were living under the patio of Ololo Safari Lodge, eating leaves in a nearby bush.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Late afternoon in Nairobi, with cars and lorries driving down the road that separates the city from the national park.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya

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